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UK must act quickly and clearly on energy future, says CBI

Government must act quicker on energy policy and provide certainty to investors over the future of low-carbon power, the CBI will say today.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, will set out the business view on the UK energy policy debate in a speech alongside Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Dr Bentley will stress that swift government action is necessary to boost investor confidence across a “diverse energy mix”, while saying “gas alone is not the answer”.

He will say: “Energy investment is as much about growth as it is about secure, low-carbon power.

“Giving energy policy speeches can sometimes feel like being stuck in a time warp. While we support the government’s direction of travel, the speed of progress is pretty frustrating.

“The Energy Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, to boost our economy as well as head off our energy challenges. To grab that opportunity before it is too late, we need less politics, more policy.”

Dr Bentley will say “all the evidence points towards a balanced and diverse energy mix as the most cost effective pathway to decarbonisation”. This includes new nuclear, new renewables, new carbon capture and storage and new gas.

“The government is right to encourage safe shale gas extraction as it makes sense to maximise the amount of energy we can produce at home at a reasonable cost.

“But gas alone isn’t the answer.”

He will also highlight an urgent need to agree on a long-term stable policy framework in Europe and at home, if the UK is to have any chance of attracting the billions of pounds of investment the country requires.

“Right now, the policy future looks too much like a blank canvas,” he will say.

The UK should also ensure it is addressing European level, such as with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The CBI will publish its proposals for the scheme next month, addressing the possibility of short-term changes and how the system can be improved to better support energy-intensive industries.

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